If first impressions — regardless of how long — are important, figure Bobby Wahl made a good one with the Mets.
“I really liked Wahl’s stuff,” said manager Mickey Callaway after Wahl, 26, part of the return from Oakland for Jeurys Familia, retired the only two batters he faced in his Mets debut Thursday during a 4-2 loss to the Braves at Citi Field. “He’s got ability to pitch up in the zone. Saw a good curveball right there at the end to strike [Johan] Camargo out. Looks like he has a lot of life and it looks like he goes out and attacks. Now obviously short sample, but he looked really good.”
Wahl needed just nine pitches in his first MLB game since May 23, 2017, one of seven appearances he made with the A’s last season. The righty was part of a perfect bullpen night as Mets relievers retired all 12 batters they faced.
“Just to come in and do my job and get the two guys out just to help the team out was big. Just to be here and get back to the big leagues was pretty cool, pretty special,” Wahl said. “I just think about coming in and getting outs. Whatever inning that is or whatever situation that is. Whenever skip tells me to go out there, I will.”
He claimed he is not looking for any set role, but just wants to do whatever is asked of him. Wahl admitted his recent life has been a whirlwind. The trade. The move to Triple-A Las Vegas. The call-up.
“Been a lot of moving. But I’m really happy to be here in this situation,” said Wahl whose recent minor league uptick (4-2, 12 saves, 2.20 ERA) came from improvements in “fastball, curveball. I’m just going after guys. That’s probably the biggest difference. Just going after the hitters, attacking them, trusting the stuff.”
Wahl underwent thoracic outlet surgery late last August and said he has had a complete and speedy recovery.
“I had a really easy rehab, felt really good the whole time,” Wahl said. “Later that week I was in a pool workout after the surgery, so pretty quick recovery. But I was normal throwing in the offseason, so it all went pretty well.”
Wahl found a familiar face in Queens — Michael Conforto, a friend and teammate with USA Baseball in 2012.
“Everybody on those teams is like first-round talent. Obviously, he had a great year to be there,” Conforto said. “I just remember really, really firm fastball and attitude like a competitive guy. We got to know each other pretty well. He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse. We’re going to get a competitor.”
In addition to calling up Wahl, the Mets on Thursday activated Todd Frazier (strained rib cage muscle) from the DL, placed Phil Evans (non-displaced fracture of left tibia) on the 10-day DL , optioned Jacob Rhame to Triple-A Las Vegas and designated outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski for assignment.
Frazier went right back into the starting lineup at third base. He said he used his rehab games to get his timing down, but suffered an 0-for-4 night with two strikeouts.
“I thought it was better than my last rehab start to be honest with you,” Frazier said. “Slow everything down and focus on squaring up the ball because at the end of the day those at-bats don’t really count. You’re trying to see pitches.”
And the key to staying sane while on the DL? Avoid Jacob deGrom.
“He’s crazy. Joking aside, it’s tough. You’re out here, you’re rooting for your guys, but at the same time you know you’re not doing anything to help your team so you try and get back as quick as possible. … You get that you’re letting the team down kind of feeling when you’re on the DL,” Frazier said noting the Mets ace is “just non-stop. I thought I was bad until I met him. He’s just a jokester.”
Austin Jackson had a pinch-hit single in the eighth. He is 5-of-13 (.385) as a Met. … Brandon Nimmo led off the first with his 14th homer of the year. That’s his third leadoff blast, all this season. … Freddie Freeman has been a regular Chipper Jones against the Mets this season. The Braves All-Star is 20-for-50 (.400) with two homers and 12 RBIs in 13 games against the Mets. … The Braves are 10-3 against the Mets this season.
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